College Football Overtime Rules Explained

College football overtime rules are rarely invoked, but when they are, things get exciting.

Overtime begins with a coin toss. The visiting team decides if they would like heads or tails during the coin toss. The coin toss is used to determine who gets the ball first and which team will defend which end zone. Unlike overtimes in the NFL, which are sudden death, college overtime gives each team a chance to have the ball. The game clock does not run during overtime, but the play clock is enforced.

The team that won the coin toss gets the ball at the opponent's 25-yard line. The team will keep the ball until it either scores a touchdown, kicks a field goal, turns the ball over (via a fumble or interception) or fails to gain a first down. Once the first team has scored, failed to score, or turned the ball over, the second team gets that ball at the 25-yard line and attempts to score. If the score remains tied after both teams have had the ball, they will toss the coin to begin a second overtime. Otherwise, whoever is winning after both teams have had the ball wins the game. If the game progresses to a third overtime, teams are forced to attempt a 2-point conversion after scoring a touchdown.

It is possible for the game to end on the first play of overtime without the second team getting a possession. If the first team turns the ball over and the defense scores on the turnover, the game will end.  

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